THE Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) is keeping its options open regarding Smart Gilas 2.0's campaign in the Fiba-Asia Championship For Men set to be hosted by war-torn Lebanon next year.
Sonny Barrios, the SBP executive director, expressed concern over the ongoing internal conflict in the East Mediterranean country, but stressed the country’s governing body for the sport is taking a wait-and-see approach for the moment.
Lebanon beat out the Philippines for the hosting of the 2013 Fiba-Asia meet that serves as the qualifying tournament for the 2014 FIBA-World Championship in Spain.
“We constantly monitor the situation there (Lebanon). The SBP would want to cross the bridge first and see what happens,” said Barrios.
PBA commissioner Chito Salud had been vocal about not allowing pro cagers from playing in the biennial tournament if the situation in Lebanon doesn’t improve.
Barrios said he understands where Salud is coming from, a position which he assured the SBP would also consider should internal strife in Lebanon persist.
“It’s a natural reaction from Commissioner Chito. Parang isang ama lang yan na siyempre, ayaw masabak sa gulo `yung mga anak niya. And the SBP is in the same frame of mind,” said Barrios.
“But we’d like to see what will happen first. A lot of things can still happen from now until next year.”
Fiba had earlier reserved the right to move the tournament to the Philippines if and when Lebanon decides to back out from hosting the world qualifier.
The SBP had already written Fiba-Asia to set a November 30 deadline for a decision on any move to give the Philippine body enough time to host the tournament.
“We would like to think we will hear from them within the month,” said the SBP executive director. “We will have to have a word from them sooner or later.”
The finals of the Fiba-Asia Champions Cup between host Al Riyadi and Mahram of Iran already failed to push through last month amid security concerns in Lebanon. Violence between pro and anti-Syria group within the capital of Beirut escalated when Lebanese intelligence chief Wissam Al-Hassam was killed by a car bomb.
The Champions Cup actually had already been moved from June 2-10 to October following the recent escalation of violence in Lebanon.